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‘The Irishman’ on Broadway: Phone Booths, Broadsheets and Jimmy Hoffa Stickers

By on November 5, 2019 0 243 Views

A long line of moviegoers stretched down West 44th Street on one of New York’s first bitterly cold days. Shuffling past oversize posters of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, and past ornate gold statues perched above the Belasco Theater’s box office, the ticket-holders headed in for a Saturday matinee.

Once they reached the theater’s lower lobby, fitted with four 1960s telephone booths and old newspaper stands, it really hit them: This was not your typical trip to the movie theater.

And Netflix doesn’t want it to be. The streaming service is filling three levels of compact Broadway seats with some of the first audiences to see “The Irishman,” Martin Scorsese’s epic gangster drama, this month at the Belasco. The site will release the film for streaming on Nov. 27, toward the end of its brief Broadway run.

Last month, negotiations between Netflix and major movie theater chains fell through when the two sides couldn’t agree on a time period for theaters to have exclusive screening access. (Bigger chains typically want 72 days of exclusivity, sometimes up to 90 days; “The Irishman” will be at the Belasco for 26 days before going online.)

The Belasco run was planned for Netflix’s rollout independently of those negotiations. If the theater’s ornate architecture falls in line with Netflix’s goal of creating an elaborate filmgoing experience, that’s mostly serendipitous. The theater’s window of availability — after “Network” closed in June and before “Girl From the North Country,” the Bob Dylan musical, begins performances in February — happened to coincide with the dates Netflix wanted.

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